Cove graduates explain monumental choices that helped their teams in their startup journeys.
Although the UCI Applied Innovation website often mentions new technologies and entrepreneurs currently housed at the facility, there are many startups that began here that have grown and moved on to bigger adventures. Here, a few alumni pinpoint certain decisions they made that they credit with their entrepreneurial success.
1. Gillian Hayes, AVIAA: “I hire for diversity, and I mean this in a lot of ways, not just gender, ethnicity, etc.”
Hayes, a UCI informatics professor turned chief executive officer of AVIAA, an international group purchasing organization for business aviation, actively hires employees with diverse career backgrounds, spanning across industries like consulting, tech, hospitality and finance. This strategic maneuver means more input from a variety of sources and industries that ultimately informs how Hayes approaches AVIAA. Essentially, employees with a wide variety of career experiences contribute to her company.
2. Byron Shen, Velox Biosystems: “You really need unique clinical insights and say, ‘how can I apply my product so that it can really make clinicians say I need this, I want this to help my job and help my patients.’”
Shen, Velox Biosystems CEO, believes that bringing different perspectives together, such as those of clinicians and patients, aided Velox Biosystems’ growth in the biomedical industry. As a team that creates technology to detect various health issues, Shen and his team design products with clinical practice and outcome in mind. He considers how doctors will apply the technology in their clinical decision-making algorithms to better diagnose and treat patients, which gives the team a holistic view of medical devices that extends from conception to development.
3. Vijay Dhaka, INBRACE: “Our best startup decision was joining an incubator/accelerator.”
The Cove @ UCI Applied Innovation served as an incubator, which empowered Dhaka, chief business officer, to focus on team development without the stress of office management for INBRACE, a medtech startup reinventing orthodontic treatment with invisible Smartwire® technology. This atmosphere helped establish a formidable support system and trusting relationships between workers. The Cove’s resources taught the INBRACE team how to speak with investors and gain more traction economically. With a strong team and informed business style, INBRACE has the foundation to provide innovative dental braces on a large scale.
4. Will Amos and Aldrin Lupisan, Closed Loop Plastics: “From my perspective, the best business decision that we were actually taught in our I-Corps program was getting off campus.”
Amos, a UCI alumnus and co-CEO of Closed Loop Plastics, which specializes in recycled filament for 3D printers, utilized the programs and workshops available at Applied Innovation, such as the I-Corps program, a National Science Foundation funded grant program to train entrepreneurs. However, he also recommends stepping out of the “safety bubble” of one’s immediate community. By asking people outside of UCI about sustainable 3D printing, Amos learned about the need for recycled filament on a larger scale. With access to more perspectives, Amos tailored his product to reach a more expansive base.
Applied Innovation provides services to a diverse range of startup companies, many that have progressed beyond the incubator in various ways. Each startups’ successful experiences lie within their use of Applied Innovation’s resources – from Innovation Advisors to the collaborative space.
Build your own success story and check out Applied Innovation’s programs to help move your startup to the next level.